Dogs are amazing animals, and there are many rewards to being a pet owner. However, there are also some troubles that come along with our furry friends.
Dogs can have some very frustrating behaviors, including chewing on your walls. It’s important to know how to stop this behavior, and that begins with identifying the cause.
Why does my dog chew on walls?
You come home from work and your sweet pooch has been very bad. You’ve now got a damaged wall. It’s tempting to scold them, but first, you should know why your dog is chewing them in the first place.
If you have a pup, teething could be the culprit. Puppies get their baby teeth at about 2 weeks old. Just like humans, they lose these baby teeth and get adult teeth.
They begin losing baby teeth at 3-4 months old. By 6 months, they should have all their adult teeth. This is a general range, so it’s possible your 2 month or 7 month old puppy is chewing the wall because they are teething.
Once they get their adult teeth in, they shouldn’t have teething issues. However, if they’ve taken a liking to chewing your walls, they may continue once they are done teething.
We train our dogs through positive association. When your dog follows a command, they get a treat. They associate the behavior with the positive outcome (the treat). This makes them want to continue the behavior.
This is great for training, but sometimes we unwittingly train our dogs to do things we don’t want them to do.
How do you react when you find your dog chewing the wall? Do you scold them? Remove them from the area? These things will cause a negative association, making your pooch less likely to continue chowing down on your walls.
However, if you talk to them or give them a toy to redirect their behavior, this can create a positive association. Dogs don’t have the same understanding of right and wrong as people. They don’t know inherently that chewing the wall is wrong.
Instead, they rely completely on your reaction to determine if they should continue the behavior. When you react in a positive way, even unintentionally, it tells them that you are pleased. Or, that chewing the walls gets them their favorite toy. Either way, it’s a reason for them to continue to chew.
Just like people, dogs need varying amounts of attention. Some dogs are fine with limited human interaction, while others have the same attention needs as a small child.
Some dogs will soak up attention and ask for more no matter how much you give them. This can make it hard to determine how much is actually enough.
If the amount of attention your dog has received has changed recently, this may be the issue. Perhaps you have a new pet or family member, or your work schedule had changed, so you have less time for them.
Regardless of the reason, it’s a good idea to spend more time with your dog if they are having behavioral issues. You can also hire a dog walker or enlist the help of family members. Dog play dates can help meet their socialization needs as well.
However, do not give them attention when you notice them chewing the wall. Wait until the correction is done, and then find some extra time for them.
Many owners aren’t aware that dogs can get bored. In fact, behavioral issues, including chewing walls or personal items, are often the first time an owner thinks about what their dog does during the day.
Dogs need mental and physical stimulation to be happy and healthy. If your dog doesn’t have enough mental stimulation, they will find something to do. This is often something you don’t want them to do.
When it comes to boredom, think of your dog as you would a small child. You’ve probably heard, “Idle hands are the devil’s playground”. This is particularly true with dogs and young children. When they don’t have suitable activities, they will find their own. A toddler may draw on the wall because they are bored, while a dog will chew on it.
This is the reason why it’s important to determine the cause of your dog’s behavior before you decide how to handle it. If your dog has anxiety, disciplining them can make the problem worse, instead of better.
This doesn’t mean you should accept the behavior. It does mean you’ll need to avoid scolding them or other “scary” punishments. A gentle approach is required.
Other signs of dog anxiety include housetraining accidents, excessive barking, pacing, drooling, and panting. Some dogs become over-excitable, and are often destructive. Other dogs become withdrawn and lethargic.
Sounds in the Walls
With all the above reasons your dog is chewing on the walls, they are also likely to chew other things. One day it might be the wall, the next day your favorite pair of shoes. It’s possible, but unlikely, for the behavior to be solely directed at your walls.
If your dog is only chewing on your walls, and showing no other signs of a behavioral issue, what is inside the wall might be the cause.
Animals in the walls is one reason dogs will only chew on walls. They are simply trying to get the animal, which doesn’t belong in their territory. Dogs have a heightened sense of hearing and smell, so you may not even be aware of the problem. If you do hear animals scurrying in the walls occasionally, you can bet this is why your dog is chewing.
Just like with anxiety, the approach here should be a little different. After all, your dog is simply attempting to protect their territory, which you don’t want to discourage.
Many owners say the best thing to do in this situation is acknowledge what your dog is doing. Let them know you see the threat they are after. Then move them away from the area. Do not praise them or give them a treat, because you don’t want to encourage wall chewing.
Pipes in the walls can make some strange noises. These can sometimes be mistaken for an intruder by a well meaning dog. If you have noisy pipes, this could be why your dog is chewing on the wall.
How to stop my dog from chewing on walls?
Of course, you don’t want the wall chewing to continue, regardless of the reason. There are several ways to get your dog to stop chewing walls, but it may take some work on your part.
Solve the Underlying Problem
The first step to stopping the chewing is to work on the underlying problem. If your dog is bored, they need more exercise and some new toys. If there are vermin in your walls, you’ll need to rid your home of them.
Training Your Dog Not to Chew the Wall
Training your dog not to chew the wall is also important. It can be paired with the methods below, and fixing the underlying problem. This multi-prong approach has the greatest chance of success.
To train your dog not to chew the wall, you’ll need to come up with a suitable consequence. Most owners find that a repellant taste or loud sound when they chew is enough to discourage the dog from continuing the behavior.
Remember to never reward your dog for chewing the wall. You shouldn’t yell at them, but it is ok to express disappointment or displeasure. Your dog will easily pick up on your emotional state. Dogs truly want to please, so this can have quite an impact.
You should also praise your dog when they are chewing on appropriate things. This can help teach them to chew their toys, not the wall.
Taste repellants are effective deterrents for most dogs. There are two ways to go about it. The first is a store-bought deterrent spray, like bitter apple.
These sprays are non-toxic, but taste bad to your dog. Many of them also include a scent repellant. You’ll need to test a small area before applying to your wall, because they can stain your paint.
You can also make your own taste repellant. The easiest and most effective is hot sauce. Simply mix with water and apply to your wall. Again, check for staining before doing a full application.
This is a correction method. It’s not suitable for dogs with anxiety, but works well for other causes. When you see your dog chewing the wall, you trigger the corrector spray. It sends out air and makes a hissing sound.
If you’ve ever blown in your dog’s face, you know they are not a fan of this. It’s an effective deterrent, because it creates a negative association. It causes no physical harm to your dog, and the unpleasantness isn’t directly tied to you as it is when you raise your voice.
Anti Chew Panelling
Lastly, you can install anti-chew panels. Some dogs are very determined. Once they’ve gotten a taste of drywall, it can be difficult to get them to stop chewing. Perhaps you’ve tried other methods. Maybe you need to leave your dog at home while you work, and can’t keep an eye on them.
In these cases, anti-chew panels can be the best solution. They come in two basic types. Pieces that you install on the wall to prevent chewing, and panelling that can withstand your dog’s teeth.
You can get anti-chew panels in acrylic or plexi glass. You can buy them marketed for this purpose, or buy the raw material and cut it to your needs.
You’ll need to install the panels on your wall, being sure to cover the areas your dog likes to chew. They won’t be able to chew the slick hard material. The panels are clear, so they aren’t very noticeable.
You can also purchase fiberglass paneling designed to prevent chewing. Like the other options, it’s designed to be tough enough to stop damage from chewing.
How to fix damaged drywall from a dog?
If your dog has chewed your wall, the good news is that you can fix it with a few basic items from your local hardware store.
To fix a small hole or an area that has been chewed less than 1/4 of an inch deep, you’ll need drywall compound. First, use sandpaper to smooth out any rough spots.
Remove any dust. Then you’ll apply the drywall compound. Fill in any dips, doing your best to get the compound even with the wall. Smooth out with a putty knife.
Once it’s dried, you’ll need to sand it. Once it’s smooth, you can paint it to match your wall. Depending on the paint you choose, you may need to use primer before painting.
Medium Holes or Area
If your dogs chewed a large hole in your drywall, or you have a large chewed area, use drywall mesh. You’ll need to apply the mesh, and then apply the compound over it.
This provides a base for the compound to stick to. It’s not suitable for large holes or a big chewed area. However, if it’s too big to fill in with only drywall compound, this should do the trick.
Apply the drywall compound and allow it to dry. Then sand and paint. Primer is strongly recommended before painting due to the larger area.
Large Holes or Area
If your dog has made a large hole or chewed a large area, you’ll need to do more than patch it. In this case, you’ll need to cut out the section of wall and replace it.
Unless you are handy with power tools and have experience working with drywall, it’s best to hire a professional here. The damaged area must be removed, and new drywall or wood must be installed.
This may sound simple, but if it’s not done correctly, the repair will show in your wall.
Why does my dog chew the wall when left alone?
Your dog may chew on the wall when left alone for any of the reasons mentioned earlier. In addition, they may have separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety occurs when your dog becomes upset when left alone. Some dogs are fine as long as you are in the home, and others will stick by you like glue. These dogs can become upset if you leave the room.
If your dog has separation anxiety, they may be destructive when left alone. They may chew walls, personal items, and anything else they can get their teeth on. They may also cry excessively when you aren’t near.